The venue was The Slowdown, one of my favorite venues, though it was just the second time I have been there. Exodus played there a few weeks ago. The bar has a decent-sized stage and a nice bar area where, while you really can not see anything, at least you can easily hear.
We were just a little bit late again, as a result of having to drive two hours, but the opening band was still on the stage when I walked in while my wife ran out for ice cream, she was not super excited for the death metal-heavy show. Wormwitch was the opener and they were incredibly impressive, playing more of a black metal mixed with later Entombed style. They had some damn catchy songs and I may just have to check out their album. Necrot was the next band on the stage, and I was fairly familiar with them, having recently picked up their Blood Offerings album, which is a fantastic slab of old school death metal. I was so impressed, I picked up a t-shirt. Both Wormwitch and Necrot had the kind of poise and presence as bands that have been around for decades, yet each of them have just recently released their first full length albums.
The first unwelcome surprise came next. Decrepit Birth was supposed to be at this show. I have really enjoyed some of their albums, though I have not kept up with them lately. Unfortunately, apparently their guitarist had some medical issues crop up last week and the band had to cancel the rest of the tour.
Suffocation was next and unfortunately brought out the next unwelcome surprise. Apparently, it is fairly well-known at this point that vocalist Frank Mullen no longer tours full-time with the band as he has a job that pays him well enough that he simply cannot afford to do so. I did not know that, so I was a little surprised when the vocalist was clearly not Mullen. It took some looking, but it apparently was Kevin Muller of The Merciless Concept. Muller absolutely did a fantastic job filling in for Mullen, but it was still a little disappointing not to see the full lineup in action. Their show was terrific though and they played a nice mix of stuff from the new album and classic songs such as "Liege of Inveracity", "Pierced from Within", and "Effigy of the Forgotten". It was absolutely worth seeing Suffocation live.
Afterwards, I got a chance to meet this guy:
My wife took the picture.
Finally, The Black Dahlia Murder took the stage. TBDM was very unfairly lumped in with the metalcore bands despite the fact that their sound was clearly melodic death metal a la Slaughter of the Soul-era At the Gates. They played a blistering set and because their songs are so short and fast, they were able to fit 20 or so songs in to a little more than an hour. They sounded damn impressive, playing a lot of stuff from their fantastic new album as well as some classics like "What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse" and "Miasma". One of the more entertaining things occurred during TBDM when their merch guy was playing Connect 4 with some other guy. My wife found that very amusing.
This was a great concert, despite the surprises. I would have liked to see Decrepit Birth and was disappointed Mullen did not perform for Suffocation, but all of the bands were very impressive.